4th Sunday Ordinary Time – Called to be Faithful

Reminder: Bishop’s Visit at the 9 AM Mass this Sunday. Please join us to welcome Bishop DiMarzio. As it is the Feast of St. Blaise, the traditional Blessing of the Throats will be offered en globo – we can all use the help at this time of the year.

From Pope Francis:

Moreover, in the social web identity is too often based on opposition to the other, the person outside the group: we define ourselves starting with what divides us rather than with what unites us, giving rise to suspicion and to the venting of every kind of prejudice (ethnic, sexual, religious and other). This tendency encourages groups that exclude diversity, that even in the digital environment nourish unbridled individualism which sometimes ends up fomenting spirals of hatred. In this way, what ought to be a window on the world becomes a showcase for exhibiting personal narcissism…

“Message from the Holy Father Francis for the 53rd World Day of Social Communications”



Update on Renovations:

The project is moving along well.  Exterior masonry work has paused until the weather turns.  Masonry joint preparation is well advanced at all upper areas of the church.  Areas of pointing have been completed along the south and west facades.  Repair is in progress at the tower of louvers and the statue located at the top.  Slate roofing repair is underway with much of the patching complete.  Mortar colors and stone refinishing products have all been reviewed and approved by the team.  Window wood investigation is completed with repair scheduled to begin pending weather.  Stained glass sub-contractors have submitted bids and are being interviewed for selection.  Gutters have been removed.  The existing conditions of the wood framing below them has been evaluated and a scope of work approved.  Gutter replacement work will be starting shortly and is not weather dependent.  Removing the gutters has allowed the team to discover some issues of dry rot.  These areas will be replaced and additional roof ventilation installed to eliminate a re-occurrence.  All landmarks reviews have been performed and approved.  Much of the scope at this point has been investigated and unforeseen conditions identified.  There is still some limited unknown in the window scope and Front step setting but the majority of the scope has been confirmed.  There is plenty of work to keep the crew busy through the remainder of the winter .  Once spring arrives the masonry work will start again and more of the restoration will begin to be visible from the street.

– Nick Strachovsky  (Nick is our client representative. His has been retained to care for our interests. He is paid directly by the Parish.)

Lent Faith-Sharing Groups
Again this coming Lent, St. Charles is organizing small groups of individuals who would like to participate in prayer, reading and reflection on scripture, and discussion of our faith, in preparation for Easter. Past participants will tell you, it’s a great experience! Sessions meet weekly starting after Ash Wednesday (March 6) and concluding before Holy Thursday (April 17). They last about an hour and there is no need to attend every session. One group will meet Sundays 8am–you can join that group, or we’ll schedule groups for any other time there is demand! If interested, please sign up on the sheets in the back of the church, or contact Jane Olson ([email protected]) [or Kerin Coughlin ([email protected])], or contact the rectory.


“I just happen to love ordinary things”

Metropolitan Pavilion,125 West 18th Street

Andy Warhol, $199 Television, 1961, painting in casein, oil paint, and wax (detail) | Whitney Museum of American Art | CC BY 2.0

A presentation by Francis Greene, Art Historian, on Andy Warhol’s realism and the religious sense

Art is the image of creation, but if it were only this, it wouldn’t have life. Art lives because it is the image of God in creation. It is the image of the return of creation to God, but art would not be alive as an image of God if the artist was not himself an image of God-Person.

~William Congdon, Notes from a talk to ISTRA, June 12, 1975

This is a part of the “New York Encounter 2019” Sponsored by “Communion and Liberation” . It will take place over the whole weekend. See link below http://www.newyorkencounter.org/new-york-encounter-2019


First Reading

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 3, 2019

Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19


Today’s reading is the commissioning of Jeremiah as a  prophet. The selection is the heart of his call but, as we shall see, even a little background will make it clearer, more powerful and disturbingly relevant. Then as now more people called themselves prophets than were considered one by God. The scripture then used the story of the prophet’s call as a means of discerning who was authentic.

A prophet is called to a specific time and place. Although we can be instructed by their teaching millennia in the future the power is directed to their contemporaries. For example, the call of the prophet Hosea begins:

The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri, in the days of Kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah, and in the days of King Jeroboam son of Joash of Israel[1]

Compare this to the first three verses of Jeremiah:

1 The words of Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah, of a priestly family in Anathoth, in the land of Benjamin. 2 The word of the LORD first came to him in the days of Josiah, son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign, and continued through the reign of Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the downfall and exile of Jerusalem in the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, son of Josiah, king of Judah. Jeremiah 1:1–3


Jeremiah’s time and place are not only clearly described but his social background and indeed the end of the kingdom. We are told at the very beginning that although God is with him by any earthly standard he will not be heard, and the kingdom will fail. This accounts for the sadness that characterizes his speech and why he is known as the weeping prophet.

As we see in the verse that begins our selection today a prophetic call begins with a confrontation with God.:

4 The word of the LORD came to me thus: Jeremiah 1:4

Real prophets do not choose themselves but are chosen by God his word comes to them.He is then prepared:

5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, Jeremiah 1:4–5

His choice is not an accident. Then he is given his mission:

A prophet to the nations I appointed you. Jeremiah 1:5)

This is extraordinary. The prophets before this were chosen to call the people back to true worship and justice in their own Land. Jeremiah is being told that his mission is to transcend this. It might have been sensible if Judah was to become a mighty power and conquer other nations or even ally themselves with a victorious power. But as we have seen Jeremiah will be the prophet when the Kingdom is destroyed. With Jeremiah we begin to see the Jewish people beginning to see that there is only one God and what that might mean.

Jerimiah is from a prominent family and he knows that a real prophet will have to suffer indignities foreign to people of his station. He looks at the task and immediately finds reasons he should not be called:

6 “Ah, Lord GOD!” I said, “I know not how to speak; I am too young.” Jeremiah 1:6 (NAB)

This is prominent in many prophets beginning with Moses:

10 Moses, however, said to the LORD, “If you please, LORD, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past, nor recently, nor now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and tongue.” Exodus 4:10–13

As with all the prophets God reminds them

Say not, “I am too young.”

To whomever I send you, you shall go;

whatever I command you, you shall speak.

8 Have no fear before them,

because I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD. Jeremiah 1:7–8


God does not take no for answer. It is not our strength power and ability which matter but only His. A prophet is useful only when he or she is most at God’s disposal

Therefore, the prophet is given the commission to speak in the name of God:

9 Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying, See, I place my words in your mouth! Jeremiah 1:9

This reminds us of the experience of Isaiah:

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 He touched my mouth with it. “See,” he said, “now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” Isaiah 6:6–7


This word is not only for instruction but also has real power

10 This day I set you

over nations and over kingdoms,

To root up and to tear down,

to destroy and to demolish,

to build and to plant. Jeremiah 1:10


This power and indeed his vision will not be experienced until after his death. God plays a long game as is seen in the next two visions:


11 The word of the LORD came to me with the question: What do you see, Jeremiah? “I see a branch of the watching-tree,” I replied.  12 Then the LORD said to me: Well have you seen, for I am watching to fulfill my word. Jeremiah 1:11–12


The watching tree is the almond tree which is the first to have blossoms in the Spring. It is called the watching tree because it seems not to sleep and to be watching during the winter. God is also watching and will make good his word.

The second vision is more specific and dire:

13 A second time the word of the LORD came to me with the question: What do you see? “I see a boiling cauldron,” I replied, “that appears from the north.” Jeremiah 1:13

The destruction of the kingdom will be from the north. Again, this is foreordained and cannot be stopped. The important thing for Jeremiah is that he fulfill the responsibilities as a prophet and trust that the people will eventually be saved.

Thus, the passage ends with a call to Jeremiah to trust and to know that he will be defended by God himself:

19 They will fight against you, but not prevail over you,

for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD. (Jeremiah 1: 19)


St Mother Teresa of Calcutta famously said: “God has not called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful” This may be the best commentary on Jeremiah. By any earthly measure Jeremiah went to his grave a failure. Most likely, he even died in exile in Egypt. Yet his prophesies of an undying Judaism as what Isaiah will call a light to the nations has come to pass. In our time and place we need to show the same faithfulness without much chance of seeing anything resembling success. The world will be more vulgar, life will be more of a devalued commodity and the good news may seem lost a technological pandemonium. The light of Christ may seem a very little light indeed. But our faith tells that it is always more and in His time it will blaze forth:

28 Therefore, we who are receiving the unshakable kingdom should have gratitude, with which we should offer worship pleasing to God in reverence and awe. 29 For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28–29